Apple Watch will have to nail heart rate


I’ve now got four devices that supposedly monitor your heartrate. My polar conductive chest belt is the old standard, and I’ve used it to measure the rest of the products. Both fitness watches fail miserably unless you’re holding dead still and your watch is in the right place on the wrist. The one that fit just under the biceps was a little better but obtrusive and still not accurate.

What I’m saying is Apple watch purchasers might be hearing a lot of “you’re holding it wrong”.


so heart-gate will be the new antenna-gate?


Kind of like “pshaw, well of course it will bend in the pocket — who puts their phone in their pocket?!?


I’ve used a couple polar heartrate monitors (one coded, one not), and my current one is a Motorola ANT+ that’s designed for use with their MotoACTV (which was great for running until I packed it too tight in my bag, and it has a big dead spot in the screen now, which I haven’t gotten around yet to replacing).

Thankfully, that ANT+ monitor works great with my Galaxy S5, provided you use the right app for it. Runtastic reports very inaccurate results, but also seems to want you to buy their custom heartrate monitor. I am guessing other apps not made specifically for ANT+ monitors may do the same? SportstrackLive is my go-to app, which works awesome, as always, with no extra fluff like Runtastic.

(Incidentally, Sportstrack is on the verge of going under, so if you guys don’t use a gps app for tracking workouts, I recommend checking it out)

Chest strap seems to be the way to go, they always seem quite accurate. I’ve rarely seen even momentary drop outs.

Who cares about accuracy? It’s an Apple gadget - it doesn’t even need to do anything at all. Just sit there and be awesome.


I have a polite request if any of you with “proper” heart rate monitors are also iPhone-havers.
There’s an app, simply called Heart Rate, made by the same people that make Sleep Cycle, which purports to measure heart rate using the camera and flash/torch light. I’d be really interested to know how that compares to a more traditional, and so reliable, reading.
Sleep Cycle is pretty much the good standard in sleep tracking, I’m going they’ve done an equally good job with their pulse meter.

it can draw fire, yet has no drawing app


Why use a camera? Hold your wrist up to your ear… you can hear your heartbeat. Use a fucking microphone. To me, using a camera is a weird and awkward kludge designed to impress more than it is designed to be practical. I feel like the software algorithms for isolating particular sounds are out there and of higher quality than anything for the camera. Also, the watch lacks an independent reference frame. You can put fifty cameras on the thing and it still won’t be able to tell the difference between certain light jostles and a pulse. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it just seems so obviously unwieldy that it makes me wonder why it was anyone’s first choice.

I have one of the Mio HRM watches, and it works well, as accurate as any chest band monitor I’ve ever used. Given that the technology to do this right is out there, and given all that Apple has riding on the Apple Watch, I have a hard time imagining that they’d ship unless it was at least good enough to compete with existing products.

There are also the stories that Apple pulled some features (blood pressure, etc.) from the watch late because they weren’t up to snuff. If they’re already okay with pulling features that don’t work to their standards, why would they leave heart rate monitoring in unless it was ready for prime time?

I’ve been using Heart Rate for a few months now. In my experience, it’s generally pretty reliable. I’ve tested it by comparing its numbers with a dedicated blood pressure/heart rate device. It’s very close, with + or - 1 variance from the dedicated device. The only time it seems to be badly off is sometimes when you try to take a measurement in the middle of exercising, such as while you’re running. That’s probably more an artifact of trying to keep your finger on the lens while moving rather than an inherent flaw in the app.

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Why not reroute an artery through the watch? It would make taking it off a little more involved, but you’d easily get accurate heart rate and blood pressure readings.


I really doubt that would work well, if only because the camera-based apps aren’t great, and if it were that trivial to use the phone’s mic held against your wrist, someone would have come out with an app for that.

I’d be pretty surprised if you really were hearing your pulse through your wrist — I’ve never heard of that, and a Google search isn’t enlightening me. I think it might be more likely that you’re hearing a pulse in/around your ear, and when you’re putting your wrist against your ear you’re cutting off other sounds and allowing that sound to be heard.

Even if the sound could be picked up by a sensitive microphone (not that a phone’s microphone is sensitive…), I think the problem of distinguishing the signal from noise is going to be just as hard as the camera-based system. The video algorithm is actually very good — it came out of research published by MIT a few years back.

Is it possible that this relates more to the amount of research you’ve done on the issue, than that of the Apple/etc engineers?

Better way: a RFID/NFC sensor implant. Readout/powering coil in the watch. As the implant is immersed in blood/extracellular fluid, it could also sense glucose level.

I was recently very pleased to find an Oregon Scientific SmartSync heart rate logger going for dirt-cheap on liquidation. Astonishingly, it works with 64-bit Windows 7 and with the rather cheap chest strap I bought a number of years ago. Apparently 5.3 GHz is sort of a standard for these things – which kind of makes me wonder why appropriate receivers don’t turn up more often.

Is it 5.3? Not 5.7-5.8 (the ISM band)?

It’s too high for cheap RTL-SDR receivers, but there are downconverters out there…

5.3 is what it says – argh, but it’s kHz, not GHz! :grimacing: I should have included a link.

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